It actually exists. Depression is apparently such a large problem in the toddler population that fine people at Eli Lilly decided to develop a mint-flavored liquid verion of America's favorite SSRI.

Now, I'm not saying childhood depression doesn't exist. And there are plenty of people in this world to whom Prozac has been a godsend, people with legitimate psychological problems whose quality of life have been improved immensly. That little disclaimer aside, what the fuck? Just what in the hell is going on here?

There seems to be a gradual erosion of the basic idea of childhood today. Four year old kids study for their kindergarden entrance exams, go off to the playdates that mommy's put down in their day planners, go to soccer practice, have every minute of their days scheduled out for them, and then, if for some unknowable reason they seem unhappy, dissatisfied, listless, or just not quite as well-socialized as Jason and Jennifer next door, we shovel mint-flavored liquid Prozac, or pharmeceutical amphetamines like Ritalin or Adderall, down their throats. Wouldn't want them to grow up to use drugs, after all.

This is the moral equivalent of third-world sweatshop labor. It's American mirror-image. While we destroy the bodies and futures of children in foreign countries we'll never visit, and never understand if we do, we destroy the pysches of our own offspring. When I was a little kid, which wasn't that terribly long ago, failure to conform was at least an option. Now, no good (upper middle class) parent would ever even allow their kids to fail to be normal.

Something vital is going to leave our culture if this goes on. The innocence of childhood, the rebellion of adolescence, they're all slowly drowning in a sea of meds, unreasonable expectations, and the cut-throat competition that's the inevitable result of parents viewing their kids as lifestyle accessories. Maybe we'll be more productive as a culture, full of more identical, racially diverse, high achievers with perfect eduations, but it'll be an empty achievment. Take away childhood and you take away the foundation of life. How can you live a balanced and sane life without something as basic as childhood as a compass? We'll be a nation of people from Public Service Announcements. Like Brave New World, only smarmier.

For a more scholarly take on this issue by yours truly, see Amphetamine addiction as a cure for ADHD.